Though it likely rarely happens, players who are on a team’s practice squad do have the right to decline a contract offer from another team attempting to sign him to their 53-man roster. Sometimes a player might take that offer back to their team, prompting them to promote him or give him a pay raise, as seemed to happen with Pittsburgh Steelers lineman B.J. Finney back in 2015.
The Steelers didn’t seem to have any trouble signing three players off of other teams’ practice squads this past week, though, and that notably includes wide receiver Deon Cain, a 2018 sixth-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts who spent most of the regular season on their 53-man roster.
“Obviously, I had a big opportunity here just to really showcase myself and really punch myself in letting the league know what I can do”, Cain told reporters in speaking to the media yesterday for the first time as a member of the Steelers.
“I’m just blessed that these guys called me, this organization”, he added. “It’s great. I’ve only been here seven days and seen a lot, a lot of great stuff. So I’m just excited to be a part of it and want to keep doing it from here”.
The signing of Cain was prompted by the injuries suffered by both JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson in the team’s last outing, though Johnson has made great progress and will start tomorrow. Nevertheless, the newcomer told reporters that he spent his time in practice running with the starters.
“Mostly just with the offense, first-team stuff”, he said when asked what he’s been doing in practice. “Like I said, my biggest thing was just trying to get the timing down with the quarterback and make sure I’m in the right spots at the right time. That’s all I’ve been working on this whole week”.
On the Steelers’ interest in him, he said, “they’re just looking for playmakers, so I just want to go out there, take it play by play, and whenever I get my chance, just make the best of it”.
Cain has size and speed, but lacks quite a bit of polish in the rest of his game. Yet the Steelers are beggars right now, and thus can’t afford to be choosy. All they will have available to them this week aside from Johnson and James Washington are Cain, Johnny Holton, and Tevin Jones, after all.
From the sounds of it, Cain can play a pretty big role tomorrow against the Cincinnati Bengals, despite having just come over a little over a week ago from the Colts. What kind of role will that be? One reporter jokingly asked if it could be as simple as running post patterns. He laughed, but said he’s been playing all over the field. With Smith-Schuster down, they need slot snaps.